Search Interpretations

09-004766 302

Mr. Louis Siegel

VP Dometic Automotive, USA

P.O. Box 15299

Richmond, VA 23227-0699

Dear Mr. Siegel:

This responds to your letter asking about the applicability of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of Interior Materials, to a refrigerator mounted in a cabinet in the sleeper of a Class 8 truck (a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,969 kilograms (33,000 pounds)). You ask whether the standard would have to be met by just the front of the refrigerator door, and not the other exterior surfaces of the refrigerator. As explained below, our answer is yes.


By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act). NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to self-certify that their products conform to all applicable safety standards that are in effect on the date of manufacture. NHTSA selects a sampling of new vehicles and equipment each year to determine their compliance with applicable FMVSSs. If our testing or examination reveals an apparent noncompliance, we may require the manufacturer to remedy the noncompliance, and may initiate an enforcement proceeding, if necessary, to ensure that the manufacturer takes appropriate action. NHTSA also investigates safety-related defects in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment.

You provide the following description of the refrigerator. [T]he refrigerator is mounted in such a manner such that the front door is the only surface actually in the refreshable air space; the other surfaces are contained within a cabinet whose outer surfaces are in the refreshable air space, and the other surfaces of the refrigerator are greater than 13 mm from the cabinets inner surface. You ask: Does the standard apply only to the front door? Does the standard apply to the other five surfaces (not in the refreshable air space)?

The following response is based on our understanding of your letter and the description you provided.


FMVSS No. 302 applies to particular components, listed in S4.1 of the standard, on new completed motor vehicles, including trucks of all GVWRs. The following components are listed in S4.1:

Seat cushions, seat backs, seat belts, headlining, convertible tops, arm rests, all trim panels including door, front, rear, and side panels, compartment shelves, head restraints, floor coverings, sun visors, curtains, shades, wheel housing covers, engine compartment covers, mattress covers, and any other interior materials, including padding and crash-deployed elements, that are designed to absorb energy on contact by occupants in the event of a crash.

Of these components, any portion of a single or composite material which is within 13 millimeters (mm) of the occupant compartment air space shall meet the flammability resistance requirements (S4.2).

A component such as a refrigerator door is not specifically enumerated in S4.1 of FMVSS No. 302. However, there are several considerations to bear in mind when answering your question. NHTSA has previously determined that a glove box door is not a component included in S4.1, unless it is designed to absorb energy on contact by occupants in the event of a crash[1] or describes a component that closely resembles an enumerated component.[2] Further, a component that is incorporated into an enumerated component could be considered part of the enumerated component.[3]

We understand from your letter that the refrigerator is stored in a built-in cabinet, such that the front door [of the refrigerator] is the only surface actually in the refreshable air space. Applying the above considerations, the refrigerator door could be subject to the flammability resistance requirements if it is incorporated into a listed component. The built-in cabinet and refrigerator face could be considered part of the vehicles trim panels, which is enumerated in S4.1. The refrigerator door could be subject to the flammability resistance requirements if it is designed to absorb energy on contact by occupants in the event of a crash. We are unable to be more specific with our answer without more detailed information about the configuration and appearance of the refrigerator and cabinet.

Even if the standard applies to the front door, it does not appear that the standard would apply to the other five surfaces of the refrigerator. According to your letter, those surfaces are more than 13 mm from the occupant compartment air space. Under S4.2 of the standard, only portions of material that are within 13 mm of the occupant compartment air space are subject to FMVSS No. 302.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992 if you have further questions.


O. Kevin Vincent

Chief Counsel


Dated: 2/15/2010

[1] See, e.g., letters to Mr. Yasunobu Mitoya, September 24, 1971, and to Mr. F.A. Stewart, June 9, 1972 (copies enclosed).

[2] Letter to Mr. J.C. Eckhold, July 19, 1971 (glove box door subject to the standard if glove box door is merely a different description of an enumerated component)(copy enclosed).

[3] See, e.g., letter to Mr. F.A. Stewart, supra (stereo speaker grills and cones would be considered part of a trim panel and compartment shelf, respectively).